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A99.9 F7622Uf 

Department of 


Forest Service 

Research Station 

Resource Bulletin NE-160 


The Forests of Connecticut 

Eric H. Wharton 
Richard H. Widmann 
Carol L. Alerich 
Charles J. Barnett 
Andrew J. Lister 
Tonya W. Lister 
Don Smith 
Fred Borman 


Eric H. Wharton, Richard H. Widmann, Carol L. Alerich, Charles J. Barnett, 
Andrew J. Lister, and Tonya W. Lister, Forest Inventory and Analysis 
Program, Northeastern Research Station, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania 

Don Smith and Fred Borman, Connecticut Department of Environmental 
Protection, Division of Forestry, Hartford, Connecticut 

Photo credits: cover, Paul Fusco, USDA Natural Resources Conservation 
Service; pages 3, 6, 10, 22, 27, 33, 35, Connecticut Department of 
Environmental Protection, Division of Forestry; pages 4, 11, Richard H. 
Widmann, USDA Forest Service; page 7, used by permission of the State of 
Connecticut; page 24, Maine Maritime Museum; page 26, Robert Burt, 
USDA Forest Service; page 29, upper right, Robert L. Anderson, USDA 
Forest Service, image 1748049 (, lower left, Terry 
McGovern, USDAAPHIS, image 2652087 (; page 
30, Robert A. Haack, USDA Forest Service, image 3225081 , 

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There is something about Connecticut . . . 

♦t* There is a reason why thousands of people — from all over the world — flock to 
Connecticut in the autumn to view nature's finest show. 

♦J* There is a reason why many of the world's producers of fine oak fiarniture, flooring, 
and paneling beat a path to Connecticut in search of raw materials. 

There is a reason why millions of people either come to Connecticut or stay in 
Connecticut to rest, relax, and recreate. 

There is a reason why so many species of wildlife, such as bear, fisher, bald eagle, 
turkey, coyote, and martin, have returned to Connecticut's landscape. 

♦t* There is a reason why so many people seek to nestle their homes in the natural beauty 
and serenity of Connecticut. 

Yes, there is something about Connecticut . . . and I believe the something about 
Connecticut is our State's enduring treasure — our forests. These forests form the backdrop to 
life in Connecticut and contribute so much to the quality of life here. 

This report is reassuring for the citizens of Connecticut: their beloved forests are healthy. But 
this report also raises a word or two of caution: the forests of Connecticut are in danger of 
being loved to death. Unchecked, our yearning to own and live in our own small piece of 
Connecticut's green treasure will eventually bring about a fiindamental - and very sad — 
change. The very nature of our forests will change and the reasons that the forests of 
Connecticut are so special will diminish: less recreation, fewer wildlife, fewer forest products, 
and less natural beauty. 

In a very real and paradoxical way, the future of Connecticut's forests is tied directly to the 
fiiture of Connecticut's cities. If we strive to create cities that are a joy to live in, maybe the 
desire to build a home in the forest will decrease - and the forests of Connecticut will 
continue to endure. Think about it. 

So, read this report and smile about Connecticut's forests today - but think about the future. 
Connecticut State Forester 

Connecticut's Resilient Forests 

Historic Perspective 

Forests provide wood and other forest products, watershed protection, wildlife habitat, a 
setting for recreation, and much more. They have played a major role in the history and 
culture of Connecticut. The State is one of the most densely populated in the nation, yet 
its forests remain as much a part of the landscape as its cities and towns. 

Early settlers found nearly all of Connecticut covered by forests with open, park-like 
conditions. For more than 1 ,000 years before European settlement, the Native Americans 
of the region burned the forest in spring and fall to eliminate tangled underbrush. The 
forests that resulted provided a more suitable habitat for the game species on which they 
subsisted. Native American populations were small and had little impact on the forest 
ecosytems in which they lived. However, once Europeans arrived, the landscape changed 

Clearing land for agriculture began slowly as colonists built small subsistence farms. But 
by the early 1 800s, the establishment of farms spread rapidly as Connecticut's farmers 
began to supply food and wool to a rapidly growing nation. Extensive forest lands were 
cleared, towns were built, and wood was harvested for homes and barns, furniture, and 
fuel. Thousands of small farms formed the basis for a strong, agricultural-based economy. 
The many stone walls and decaying chestnut fences found throughout the woods of 
Connecticut are evidence of this history. 

By 1820, only 25 percent of Connecticut was forested. Substantial changes within forest- 
dependant communities followed, as black bear, elk, mountain lion, white-tailed deer, 
quail, grouse, and timber wolf disappeared from much of the State. The loss of habitat 
and extensive harvesting of certain wildlife species, such as beaver and wild turkey, 
contributed to alter the balance of Connecticut's natural communities. 

Forests once thought to be unlimited began to disappear and the State faced declining 
wildlife populations and timber shortages. Soil erosion from farms increased and silt 
muddied the water in creeks that once ran clear. Because of the rapid runoff of storm 
water, springs that previously flowed all year began to dry during the summer. 

In spite of these negative environmental impacts, farming continued to flourish until 
economic, rather than environmental, reasons converged to alter the landscape once again. 
In 1830, the Erie Canal opened and Connecticut's agricultural zenith passed. Within two 
decades, the small, stony farms of Connecticut were unable to compete with the larger, 
more mechanized farms of western New York and the Ohio River Valley. 

Much of the farmland became exhausted and unsuitable for continuous agricultural crops 
and soon was abandoned. Farmers left marginal hillside farms to take city jobs created by 
the growth of manufacturing. Finally, the opening of the West after the Civil War and the 


added incentive of free land hastened the pace of farm 
abandonment across New England. Before long, forests began 
to return to much of Connecticut. 

Abandoned farm land reverting to 
forest has been repeated countless 
times. Since 1825, the acreage of 
forest land in Connecticut has 
more than doubled. However, the 
acreage in farmland has continued 
to decline to this day. 

Without human interference, the vegetation of abandoned fields changed. Plants with seeds 
distributed by wind or birds were the first to germinate. These included many of the more 
common wildflowers - golden rod, New England aster. Queen Anne's lace, Joe-Pye weed, 
butterfly weed, and blackberries, for example. Trees more suited to open, grassy patches 
followed - white pine first, then oak and hickory. Other species such as birch and red maple 
also established themselves on recently abandoned cropland, the latter species particularly in 
bottomlands. Then, as the trees grew and formed a protective canopy, more shade-tolerant, 
deciduous species such as sugar maple, beech, yellow birch, and hemlock, became established in 
the understory. 

At one time, Connecticut's forest were comprised predominantly of American chestnut. But in 
the early 1900s, the chestunt blight changed the composition of Connecticut's forests forever. 
This disease struck at a time when forests were being cleared extensively for charcoal 

Harvesting wood for charcoal boomed between 1880 and 1925. Much of Connecticut's forests 
were cleared, sometimes more than once, to feed a hungry nation's need to heat homes and 
manufacturing facilities. When coal was introduced as a cheaper fuel, charcoal production 
declined. However, the state's forest composition had been significantly altered. 

Oak, hickory, and other hardwoods grew in place of chestnut. Ofi:en originating as sprouts 
developing in full sunlight, these trees formed many of the even-aged stands of oak and hickory 
that covers much of Connecticut's woodlands today. 

Over the years, other natural enemies, such as Dutch elm disease, gypsy moth, and storms such 
as the 1938 hurricane, have continued to alter the face of Connecticut's forests. Human 
influence, as well, continues to reshape the landscape. Today, the forests once again are being 
pushed back, not for agricultural use, but from the pervasive march of urban sprawl. What will 
the forests of Connecticut look like tomorrow? 


The USDA Forest Service could not count every tree in Connecticut. 
Instead, it uses a scientifically designed sampling method. First, aerial 
photographs of the entire state are studied. A grid of nearly 1 2,000 points 
was overlaid on these photos. If forested, each of these points v/as classified 
according to the size of the trees. From this information, a sample of 45 1 
plots v/as selected for measurement by field crews. Included in this sample 
were 401 plots established during previous inventories. By remeasuring 
plots, data was obtained on how individual trees grow. Some plots were 
first established in 1 952 and were measured for the fourth time during 
1997-1998. Field crews collected information on the number, size, and 
species of trees, as well as a host of other forest attributes. From the data, 
reliable estimates were made of the forest resource - its condition and 
health, and how it is changing over time. 

A New Forest Inventory 

Widespread land abuse in the eastern United States 
during the 1 800s led Congress to pass conservation 
legislation in the early part of the 20th century. Under 
this authorit}^ the U.S. Forest Servdce began to conduct 
periodic forest inventories in all states to provide 
information about the forest resources of the nation. 
Now, continuing inventories are conducted throughout 
the countr}' on many occasions, under the authorit}- of 
the McSweeney-McNar}' Forest Research Act of 1928, 
and more recent legislation that includes the Renewable 
Resources Planning Act of 1974 and the Renewable 
Resources Research Act of 1978. 

Previous inventories were conducted for Connecticut in 
1952', 1972-, and 1985.' In 1997-98, die fourth 

inventor)^ of Connecticut's forests was conducted by the 
U.S. Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) 
Program, Northeastern Research Station. The 
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, 
Division of Forestry^, cooperated in this effort. 

The results of this most recent inventor}^ detail the 
condition and extent of Connecticut's diverse forests. 
Highlighted in this report are some of the significant 
trends that have occurred in Connecticut's forests over 
the last half centur}'^. The reinventor}' of Connecticut's 
forest resources involved other associated studies and 
considerable analysis. Detailed statistical tables have 
been published separately. In addition, information on 
Connecticut's private forest-land owners and its primary 
forest-products industr}^ is available. 

'Gris\vold, Norman B.; Ferguson, Roland H. 1957. The 
timber resources of Connecticut. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. 
Depart ment of Agriculture, Forest Ser\'ice, Northeastern 
Forest Experiment Station. 36 p. 

"Dickson, David R.; Bowers, Theresa M. 1976. Forest 
statistics for Connecticut. Resour. Bull. 
NE-44. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 
Forest Ser\'ice, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 40 p. 

^Dickson, David R.; McAfee, Carol L. 1988. Forest statistics 
for Connecticut - 1972 and 1985. Resour. Bull. NE-105. 
Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, 
Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 102 p. 

^Alerich, Carol L. 2000. Forest statistics for Connecticut: 
1985 and 1998. Resour. Bull. NE-147. Nemown Square, PA: 
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Ser\dce, Northeastern 
Research Station. 104 p. 


Location of Connecticut's Forests 

Land Class 

Non-forest Land 

Forest Land 

Percentage Forest Land Cover 

.Fairfield ">^^ 

> 37% 

New London 
Haven li?^**dlesex] 63% 

Change in Forest Land 

Little or no change 
(-5.0% to +5.0%) 

Moderate decline 
(-5.0% to -15%) 

Moderate increase 
(+5.0% to +15%) 

Substantial increase 
(greater than +15%) 

Land Base Characteristics and Trends 
Connecticut's Forests Today 

Forest land dominates Connecticut's landscape. About 60 percent of Connecticut is 
forested - that's 6 out of every 10 acres. The remaining land is cropland, improved 
pasture, and other nonforest land such as housing, commercial and industrial 
facilities, rights-of-way, wetlands, and recreational areas. 

These forests of Connecticut sweep northward from Long Island Sound, through 
the oak- and hickory-dominated woodlands of the Connecticut River Valley and 
into the northwestern corner of the State. Here, the foothills of the Berkshires and 
New England Highlands begin, along with an increasing predominance of northern 

Litchfield County rests in this northwest corner of Connecticut and is the most 
heavily forested. More than 75 percent of its land area is covered by forests. 
Throughout the remainder of the state, the percentage of forest-land cover falls 
below half only in the more heavily urbanized counties of Fairfield and New 
Haven. These two counties are the least forested — 37 and 47 percent, respectively. 
The Upper Connecticut River Valley county of Hartford is 53 percent forested. 

Very little change has occurred since the last inventory in the heavily urban and 
suburban counties of southwestern Connecticut. The small increases or declines 
have not been significant in these counties. Forest land is being lost, however, in 
eastern Connecticut. New London and Windham Counties, both with more than 


60 percent forest cover, have shown moderate declines in 
forest land — by 5 and 7 percent, respectively. Most of 
the increases in forest land have occurred through the 
center and into the northwestern part of the state. Forest 
cover in Hartford County, in particular, increased by 
nearly 23 percent. 

Nearly 1.9 million acres of forest land carpet the 
Connecticut countryside. But this was not always so. As 
mentioned previously, 
nearly two-thirds of original 
forests had been converted 
to farm land by the middle 
of the 19th century. Since 
then, the forests of the State 
have exhibited their 
resilience, reclaiming 
farmland until by 1952, 
forests blanketed more of 
Connecticut than at any time 
in the last hundred years. 

The trend of reverting farm land, however, began to slow 
over the last half century. Between the first two 
inventories in 1952 and 1972, forest land declined from 
1.99 million acres to 1.83 million acres. After the post- 
war baby boom in the 1950s and 1960s, people 
migrated from the cities. First farm land and then forest 
land was converted to home sites and other associated 
uses to accommodate a burgeoning suburban 

Farm land (cropland and pastures) covers 9 percent of 
Connecticut.The amount of pasture land has stabilized 
from previous inventories, but cropland continues to 
decline. The remaining nonforest land includes not only 
land devoted to housing, but also land associated with 
urban development: rights-of-way, industrial and 
commercial facilities, churches, and schools, etc. These 
account for 3 1 percent of the land area, which has been 
increasing steadily in Connecticut. 

In the 26 years that followed (during which two 
additional inventories were conducted) forest land 
increased once again - to 1.85 million acres in 1985, 
and to 1.86 million acres in 1998. Statistically, these 
most recent changes are negligible, and forest land can 
be considered to have remained essentially unchanged. 

As the forests were returning to Connecticut over the 
past decades, a land-hungry population was expanding. 

Since 1972, the amount of 
new forest land coming from 
abandoned farms has roughly 
equaled its loss from 
development, resulting in a 
stable balance. But this trend 
is unlikely to continue. There 
are no longer large amounts 
of marginal farm land 
available to revert to forest. 
Today, urban development 
shows little signs of slowing, 
and pressures are increasing on both farm and forest. 

As urban development continues to spread, the trend of 
a stable forest land base may begin to reverse itself 
Connecticut's future forests will be shaped not only by 
biological factors, but also by social factors: the need for 
more living space and the increasing demands on the 
forest brought about by diverse attitudes of the populace, 
attitudes that may extend well beyond the borders of 


People and the Forest 

Population size and how people live on the land are 
significant forces in shaping the forest. Between 1953 and 
1998, the population of Connecticut grew 51 percent, to 
3.3 million people. Today, Connecticut is the fourth most 
densely populated state in the nation. Yet it also ranks 
13th in percentage of forest cover. Few places have as 
many people living among so much woodland. 

Altered perceptions about how the State's forest should be 
managed have caused more forest land to be reserved for 
public use. Public land is the primary location for forest- 
related recreation across much of the state. In 1985, 14 percent of the forest land base was 
publicly owned, but by 1998 that proportion had risen to 17 percent. County and municipal 
lands, in particular, increased by nearly 25 percent - from 86,000 acres to more than 107,000 
acres. The amount that the State owns and manages has remained relatively stable, increasing by 
only 6,000 acres. Resource management decisions about the public use of Connecticut's forests 
are beginning to be made at the local level. 

Private forest-land owners comprise the bulk of 
owners, controlling 83 percent of the State's 
forests. These landowners are farmers (1%), 
individuals (54%), corporations (28%) (other 
than forest-industry owned lands), and other 
miscellaneous groups, such as hunting clubs and 
land trusts. The amount of forest land they own 
remained essentially unchanged, decreasing by 
only 2 percent from the previous inventory. 
However, the responsibility for managing 
Connecticut's forest land within this private 
landowner group has shifted in recent decades. 

Some changes have come from forest industry 
divestment of land they own. Forest industries 
are companies or individuals that operate a 
primary or secondary wood-manufacturing 
facility. The size of this group has decreased 
steadily until by 1998, they controlled only a 
negligible amount of forest land. However, an 
increase in corporate ownership other than forest 
industries has accounted for the largest shift. In 1985, companies owned only 350,000 acres of 
forest land. That had increased nearly 50 percent by 1998, to 522,000 acres. Conversely, the area 
owned by farmers declined from 153,000 to only 19,000 acres. 

The proportion of forest land owned by nonindustrial private forest-land owners has decreased 
since the previous inventory, yet this category of owners still predominates. There are 102,000 of 
these owners in the State. The size of their holdings vary considerably, which strongly influences 
motives and management activities. Owners of large tracts of forest are more likely to manage for 
timber products. Private and public water utilities also own some of the largest forested tracts in 
Connecticut, but they manage their lands very differently. Owners with tracts of forest land 
greater than 100 acres account for only 3 percent of all owners, but collectively they control 48 
percent of the forest. 

Distribution of Forest-Land 
Area by Ownership 


Farmers Corporations 

54 % 


Number of Owners and Acres of Forest Land 







By Tract Size Class 







< \ \ \ % % 
Tract Size Class (acres) 

Small tracts are usually home sites, and their owners 
exhibit a variety of objectives that cover the full 
spectrum of management objectives, from the purely 
economic to aesthetic enjoyment and safeguarding their 
woodland for posterity. Owners of small tracts comprise 
the largest number of landowners in Connecticut. 

Although many in number, owners with small holdings 
account for a small portion of the forest land base. 
Almost 85 percent of the private forest landowners hold 
tracts less than 20 acres. Three-fourths of the private 
forest landowners own fewer than 10 acres and they 
collectively own only 9 percent of all forest land in the 

The number of these landowners, however, is on the rise. 
All private forest landowners with fewer than 50 acres of 
forest land have increased by 68 percent since 1975. 

The large number of landowners with small tracts of 
forest land highlights a growing concern throughout the 
northeastern United States - forest fragmentation. 

Population growth often is accompanied by increases in 
the expansion of residential and urban land uses and the 
effects of this urban expansion on forest land are just 
beginning to be understood. 

Forest fragmentation, or the division of contiguous 
forest land into smaller or more complex patches, has 
the potential to change local hydrology, reduce forest 
interior habitat, increase site disturbances, and promote 
the invasion of exotic plant species. Wildlife biologists 
have found that breaking up large tracts of forest into 
many smaller forests by roads, homes, and other related 
land development can be detrimental to many species of 

To help answer some important questions about changes 
to the Connecticut landscape, a special study involving 
aerial photo interpretation was initiated. By looking at 
forest inventory data in relation to patch size and nearest 
land use, scientists have gained a better understanding of 
the extent of fragmentation and effect on the forest 

In Connecticut, the most commonly occurring forest 
patch size is between 250 and 1,250 acres. Litchfield 
County contains the greatest proportion (16.8 percent) 
in patches greater than 2,500 acres. Such large, 
contiguous forest patches provide unique habitat and 
ecological stability for certain animal and plant species 
and the data suggest that forests of northwest 
Connecticut are less fragmented than elsewhere. 

The percentage of urban land is slightly more than 12 
percent in Litchfield County compared to the state 
average of 26 percent. U.S. Bureau of Census data for 
2000 shows that population density in Litchfield 
County is also low, about 198 people per square mile. 
However, that density has increased by nearly 5 percent 
over the last 10 years, and growth such as this will 
influence the structure and distribution of forest land in 
the future. 

Small forest patches provide less interior forest habitat 
and may increase the forest's susceptibility to diseases 
and to the invasion by exotic plant species. Nonforest 
land and these smaller forest patches predominate in the 
southern and central areas of the State. 

The forests of Fairfield County are more highly 
fragmented. Nestled in the southwest corner of 
Connecticut, it has the least amount of forest land in 
relation to total land area, with the remainder of its land 
mostly residential. Nearly 39 percent of the total area in 
the county is residential land, which accommodates a 
population density of more than 1 ,400 people per 


Color infrared aerial photography highlights the fragmentation 
of forest land due to farmland, urban development, and roads in 
Columbia, CT. Currently, studies are being conducted to 
characterize this distribution and fragmentation of forest land. 
Forest fragmentation indicators were interpreted from aerial 
photographs on a grid of points across several northeastern 
states, with a sampling intensity of one plot for every 285 acres. 
In Connecticut, this involved overlaying a grid of 11,4 1 7 points 
on 1 :40,000 aerial photography. Each forested point was analyzed 
for three fragmentation indicators: I) the size of the contiguous 
forested patch containing the point; 2) the distance from the 
point to the nearest developed land use; and 3) the type of 
nonforest land use encountered closest to the forested point. 
For a more complete description of methods, refer to Reimann 
and Tillman (1999).^ 

^Riemann, Rachel;Tillman, Kathy. 1999. FIA photointerpretation 
in Southern New England: a tool to determine forest 
fragmentation and proximity to human development. Res. 
Pap. NE-709. Radnor, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest 
Service, Northeastern Research Station. 1 2 p. 

Average Size of Contiguous Forest Patch at Each Sample Photo Point 

Forest patch size (acres) 

I I <25 (17.5%) 

I I 26- 125 (16.9 %) 

I I 126-250 (12.5 %) 

[ I Nonforested photo point 

251-1,250 (33.8 %) 
1,250-2,500 (10.1 %) 
2,501 + (9.1 %) 

Average Distance of Each Sample Photo Point to the Nearest Nonforest Land Use 

I I < 0.125 (67.9 %) 

I I 0.125-0.25 (18.3 %) 
I I 0.25-0.50 (10.2 % ) I I Nonforested photo point 

0.50-1.0 (3.2%) 
1.0 + (0.3 %) 

square mile. Forest land here occurs in relatively small 
patches - more than 20 percent of the sample points 
were in forest patches smaller than 2.5 acres in size. 

In the entire state, more than 86 percent of the sample 
points were within 1/4 mile of a forest edge, and nearly 
68 percent were within 1/8 mile. In Fairfield County, 
more than 80 percent were within 1/8 mile of the forest 
edge. In contrast, Litchfield County 
appears to have the greatest amount of 
interior forest, based on distance to the 
nearest nonforest land use. 

Urban and agricultural lands have the potential to 
influence bordering forest patches in dififerent ways. The 
shape and abruptness of the transition from forest to 
nonforest land is related to the type of adjacent land use. 
Seed dispersal by animals and wind, as well as local 
climate and moisture dynamics, may be affected by the 
nonforest land uses surrounding a forest patch. 

The potential effects of adjacent nonforest 
land on forest composition and structure 
depends, in part, on the type of land use 
encountered at the forest/nonforest 
interface. In Connecticut, residential land 
was the most common land use found 
closest to the sample points, and 
agrictdtural land was the second most 
common - 60 percent and 24 percent, 
respectively. The proximity to developed 
land can subject forest patches to human 
influence. It also can increase the amount 
of edge habitat, influencing both floral and 
faunal species composition. 

The classification of timberland as 
forest land capable of producing 
commercial crops of timber does 
not limit its use for other purposes. 
Today, timberland is managed 
differendy than it has been in the 
past, especially in suburban areas. 
Privately owned timberland can be 
an important source for recreational 
opportunities, as the demand for 
outdoor experiences rise and land 
available for these activities declines. 
It also can be preserved as wildland 
for posterity. All of these are valuable 
commodities from timberland. 


These and orher biotic and abiotic factors 
affect the composition and structure of 
forest patches. Some studies have shown 
that forests in urban areas generally have 
fewer understory species, lower stem 
densities, and greater proportions of non- 
native plant species than similar forests in 
rural and agricultural areas. Research is 
currently under way to better define the 
relationship between land-use context, 
forest fragmentation, and forest structure 
and health. Once these links are better 
understood, decisionmakers will be able to 
use forest fragmentation information to 
make informed development choices. 

Forest types are based on relative 
stocking and are assigned 
according to the most dominant 
and codominant trees on the site. 
Forest-type groups are composed 
of a diverse collection of specific 
forest types. For example, the 
northern hardv^ood forest-type 
group can range from pure stands 
of black cherry to mixed stands 
containing maple, beech, birch, and 
other deciduous species, with no 
single species dominating the 


An important component of forest land is timberland, 
which is forest land that is capable of producing 
commercial crops of timber. In Connecticut, timberland 
accounts for 91 percent of all forest land. In 1972, there 
were 1.81 million acres of timberland. That declined to 
1.78 million acres by 1985, though the decline was not 
statistically significantly. By 1998, timberland had 
declined to 1.70 million acres - again, not significantly 
different. In nearly 25 years, the amount of forest land 
potentially available for harvesting has shift:ed by only 
110,000 acres. 

Noncommercial forest land, the other component of 
forest land, includes reserved forest land, unproductive 
forests, and urban forests. Harvesting for timber 
products on these lands is restricted administratively or 
is not economically practical. Examples of 
noncommerical forest land include parks, wildlife 
preserves, and mountaintops and wetlands with poor 
growing conditions — all of which account for only 9 
percent of forest land in Connecticut. 

The structure of Connecticut's timberlands vary with 
the abundance and character of its forests. One common 
characteristic that helps describe the landscape is the 
distribution of forest-type groups. Connecticut forests 
contain a mixture of forest types that are distributed 
throughout the State, each helping to define the 
character of forests that occur across the hills and river 
valleys. Their distribution depends on terrain position, 
soil depth, climate, and other factors. 

Of the nearly 1.7 million acres of timberland in 
Connecticut, about 51 percent is in the oak/hickory 
forest-type group. The next most abundant forest-type 
group is northern hardwoods, which accounts for 29 
percent of timberland. Northern hardwoods are 
commercially the most valuable forest-type group, and 
one of the more aesthetically pleasing. Other forest type 
groups individually account for no more than 9 percent 
of the timberland base. But, knowing which are the 
most abundant forest types completes only part of the 


Area of Timberland by Forest-type Group and County 
(in thousands of acres) 


TT liltC alMKJ 

TTlrn ficfi 




lilCiVUi V 

i CU lildLFlC 

h d 1* r1 \X7 n n H 
ildl u. w uuti 































New Haven 







New London 





















Total, all counties 







'includes spruce/fir (7.0 thousand acres in Litchfield County), hard pine (5.9 thousand acres in New London 
County), oak/pine (24.2 thousand acres in Hartford. Litchfield. New London, and Windham Counties), and aspen 
and birch (25.2 thousand acres in Hartford, Tolland, and Windham Counties). 

Change in Timberland Area by Forest-type Group 

200 400 600 800 1,000 

Thousand Acres 

'includes the spruce/fir, hard pine, oak/pine, and aspen/birch forest-type groups 

Spatial and temporal information about different forest types also helps illuminate prevailing 
forest conditions. For example, most of the white/red pine forest-type group can be found along 
the northern edge of the state, concentrated mainly in Litchfield County. Any spruce and fir 
that can be found will most likely occur here as well. The hard pine group, which includes the 
eastern redcedar forest type, is found primarily in New London County. Aspen/birch forest-type 
group is found in Hartford County; the elm/ash/red maple forest- type group is distributed 
evenly throughout Connecticut. 


While the oak/hickory group predominates in every part of Connecticut, it begins to lose 
its dominance in the northwestern corner of the state. In Litchfield County, oak and 
hickory forests account for 43 percent of the timberland area, while northern hardwoods 
account for 38 percent - almost an equal distribution. Conditions in this corner of the 
state are sufficiently different from the rest of Connecticut that a different kind of forest 
can be found, one which includes the possibility of finding rarer species, such as spruce 
and fir. 

While the oak/hickory forest-type group continues to prevail throughout the state, its area 
has been decreasing for many years. Oak forests once flourished because of prevailing 
timber harvesting practices and other disturbances associated with wildfires. Oaks are 
more resistant to fire damage due to their bark, and resprout more easily than other 
species after a fire. Oaks also benefit from openings that result from timber harvests. At 
the time of the first inventory in 1952, there were 2.7 million acres of oak and hickory. 
That area declined 57 percent to 1.155 million acres in 1972, 21 percent to 913.8 
thousand acres in 1985, and 4 percent to 875.8 thousand acres in 1998. 

The white/ red pine, and elm/ash/red maple forest- type 
groups have declined as well. During the previous 
inventory, both showed an increase. At that time, white 
pine had exhibited a reversal from the devastation of the 
1938 hurricane. Elm, ash, and red maple had increased 
largely due to the continued abandonment of farmland. 
The species in this forest type are some of the first found in 
old fields, particularly in the more moist, bottomland sites. 
Since that time, however, farmland abandonment has 
declined, as have these pioneer species. 

Composition and Structure of the Forest 
Species Diversity 

Connecticut's forests are interwoven with a rich tapestry of biological diversity. All kinds 
of forest vegetation — living trees and shrubs, dead and downed woody stems, microflora, 
lichens, mosses, and herbaceous plants - contribute to a diverse habitat for wildlife. This 
diversity supplies forage, shelter for forest-dwelling wildlife and wildlife that inhabit 
forest-dependent aquatic systems, and the invaluable edge characteristics that exist 
between forest and other land uses. 

The continued maturing of Connecticut's 
forests, recurring apprehension about 
over-harvesting and high-grading, and the 
control of wildfires have resulted in a lack 
of disturbance that once promoted oak 
regeneration. That, as well as urban 
expansion, tree mortality from gypsy moth, 
and deer browse of established seedlings, 
have contributed to the decline of the oak- 
dominated forests of Connecticut. 

Species diversity is evident in the number of different species encountered. The forest 
inventory identified 82 different tree and shrub species. Among shrub species, blueberry 
clearly predominates - the 2nd through 10th most abundant shrub species are found in 
nearly equal abundance. Eastern white pine is the most common softwood tree species 
encountered in terms of numbers of stems. But Connecticut's forests are flush with a 
variety of hardwood tree species that bring richness to the forest landscape, the most 
common of which are red maple, black cherry, and sweet birch. 

However, not all species are welcome. Connecticut contains a variety of invasive or 
potentially invasive plants. These are species that, either by accident or intentionally, tend 
to replace other species and become dominant, reducing species diversity. Some of the 
more widespread in Connecticut include tree-of-heaven, Japanese barberry, Asiatic 
bittersweet, autumn olive, winged euonymus, honeysuckle, and multiflora rose. 


Top Ten Shrub Species 

Maple-leaved viburnum 
Mountain laurel 
Rubus species 
Common spicebush 
Rose species 

Red maple 
Black cherry 
Sweet birch 
American hornbeam 
American beech 
White oak 
Northern red oak 
Eastern white pine 
Sugar maple 

36 species of shrubs were tallied 
on Connecticut's timberlands 

1,000 2,000 
Million Stems 

Top Ten Tree Species 



200 300 
Million Trees 




Occurrence of Invasive Species on 
Forest Inventory and Analysis Plots 


Rose species 

10 20 30 

Number of Plots 

During the 1998 inventory, several invasive 
species were encountered on 268 of the forested 
field plots. Honeysuckle and barberry were found 
to be the most pervasive. Four of the species 
combined — honeysuckle, barberry, tree-of-heaven, 
and rose species — were the predominant invasive 
species encountered on the forested plots. 

While a few notable species - bittersweet, autumn 
olive, euonymus, and Norway maple - were not 
encountered, they can still exist in profusion. 
Frequency of encounter is a function of sampling 
intensity and natural growing conditions. Invasive 
species frequently found in open fields, riparian 
areas, or shorelines, are less likely to be 
encountered in forest inventories. 


Timber Volume Changes 

The volume of trees in Connecticut has been increasing 
steadily for more than half a century. At the time of the 
first inventory, there were 1.3 billion ft^ of growing 
stock. By 1972 and 1985, that amount increased to 2.3 
billion ft^and 2.8 billion ft^, respectively. But during the 
most recent inventory, Connecticut's growing stock 
increased to 3.2 billion ft^. That's nearly a 14 percent 
increase since the last inventory, and more than double 
what was there in 1952. 

About two-thirds of the total volume contained in 
Connecticut's forests is 
comprised of broadleaf and 
deciduous, or "hardwood" 
species. The remainder is 
comprised of coniferous, or 
"softwood" species. At first, a 

Growing-stock volume is the cubic-foot volume in trees 
5 inches (d.b.h.) and larger, between a I -foot stump and a 
4-inch top diameter outside the bark, or until the stem 
breaks into branches before that point. 

Sawtimber volume is board-foot volume: for softwoods 
- it is in trees 9 inches d.b.h. and larger, to a 7-inch top 
diameter outside the bark, or until the stem breaks into 
branches before that point. For hardwoods, it is in trees 
1 1 inches d.b.h. and larger, to a 9-inch top diameter outside 
the bark, or until the stem breaks into branches. 

small increase of softwood species occurred, but 
sofhvood volumes have remained stable over the past few 
decades. Almost all of the recent increases in growing- 
stock volume have been due to increases in hardwood 

The same trend can be found in sav^aimber. Between 
1952 and 1972, there were significant increases in 
softwood sawtimber volume. Since then, sawtimber 
volume has been steadily increasing almost entirely due 
to hardwood sawtimber. Between 1952 and 1972, 
sawtimber volume increased from 1.9 billion board feet 

to 5.4 billion board feet - 
nearly tripling. More recent 
increases have not been so 
extreme: 41 percent between 
1972 and 1985, and 20 
percent between 1985 and 

Change in Growing-stock Volume on Timberland 

= 2 





1 - 





1953 1972 1985 1998 



Change in the Sawtimber Volume on Timberland 

^ 6 


I 4 

2 - 





1953 1972 1985 1998 

Softwoods Hardwoods 



These maps were created using an estimation procedure 
called sequential Gaussian conditional simulation. Forested 
plots were used as "known" data and we predicted values at 
unknown locations using information found at these known 
locations. For example, an unknown area near a group of 
plots with large amounts of hemlock probably has high 
amounts of hemlock as well. Using this principle, we made 
predictions at every location on the map. The values are 
actually "relative importance," or the relative proportion of 
that species' basal area. 

Species Distribution of Selected Softwood Species 


white pine 

Distribution of Tree Species 

The forests of Connecticut contain a remarkable 
mixture of tree species. The distribution is determined 
by each species' suitabihry to site conditions and past 

Site conditions include attributes such as soil type, 
drainage, terrain, and competition from other species. 
Conditions also vary by the numbers and types of 
mammals present. Deer, mice, and squirrels influence 
the composition of the forest by browsing seedlings or 
consuming available seeds of preferred species. 
Disturbance is caused by natural events and human 
activity: fire, windthrow, insect outbreaks, harvesting, 
and land clearing followed by abandonment. These and 
other factors acting together over time have shaped 
Connecticut's forests. 

Hemlock is the most abundant softwood species in 
terms of growing-stock volume and is concentrated in 
the northwestern corner of Connecticut. Extracts from 
its bark produced a tanning agent called tannin and 
once played a key role in the manufacture of natural 
leathers. Over the years, tannin was replaced by 
synthetic agents and the demand for hemlock bark 
subsided. Likewise, hemlock was not a preferred species 
for charcoal production. Because of these factors, and 
also because of fewer markets for hemlock framing 
lumber, the harvesting of hemlock declined. 

However, since the previous inventory, hemlock 
growing-stock volume has remained essentially 
unchanged, unable to keep pace with the general increase 
in growing-stock volume for all species. In 1985, its 
growing-stock volume was 216 million ft^. By 1998, it 
had increased to 225 million ft^ — only a 4 percent 
increase. During that time, hemlock sawtimber volumes 
declined. The hemlock wooly adelgid probably has 
contributed to keep hemlock volume increases down. 

The other major softwood species in Connecticut — 
eastern white pine - can be found growing abundantly 
along the rolling hills adjacent to the Massachusetts 
border in about the same region as hemlock. It grows 
best on the deep, well-drained fertile soils of glacially 
deposited sands or gravels, and in cooler climates. These 
conditions are common here and to a certain extent limit 
competition from hardwoods. But some of the highest 
quality stands also can occur on pockets of land that 
were once cleared for agriculture - land that might be 
found in the far eastern portion of the state along the 
Rhode Island border. 

Since the previous inventory, white pine growing-stock 
volume has increased from 167 million fi:^ to 214 
million ft^ of growing stock - a 27 percent increase. Its 
sawtimber volume increases have been even greater - 33 
percent. Left to flourish after the extensive damage 
caused by the 1938 hurricane, much of the white pine 


Species Distribution of Selected Hardwood Species 


that remained has now grown into sawtimber-size trees. 
Generally, increases of growing stock volume have been 
facilitated by the vestiges of farm abandonment. 

Northern red oak and white pine commonly are found 
growing in association with one another and their 
distributions are somewhat similar. Northern red oak is 
a major component of the oak/hickory forest-type group 
and also an associate of the northern hardwoods forest- 
type group, both of which are found in almost equal 
distribution in northwestern Connecticut. At one time 
northern red oak was the leading species in both 
growing-stock and sawtimber volume. It now ranks 
second to red maple in growing-stock volume but 
remains the leading sawtimber species, with a volume 
that has increased by 16 and 24 percent over the past 
two inventories. 

In addition to northern red oak, white oak and three 
other species of the red oak subfamily were also tallied. 
These other red oaks include scarlet oak, pin oak, and 
black oak. Some chestnut oaks were encountered, but in 
such small amounts that they were included under other 
hardwoods. Red oaks (other than northern red oak) 
usually are found distributed along the southern tier of 
Connecticut counties in the well-drained upland soils. 

There is a small pocket in the very northeastern corner 
that extends into the state from Rhode Island. This 
pocket is most likely scarlet oak, which is found on dry 
ridges and south facing slopes. Other red oaks 
consistently have increased in both growing-stock and 
sawtimber volumes. 

White oak exists throughout much of eastern 
Connecticut but is heavily concentrated in Middlesex 
County, along the banks of the lower Connecticut River 
as it flows out of the New England Highlands and into 
Long Island Sound. This pocket of white oak is 
surrounded by less of an urban population than 
surrounding areas. While growing stock volume has 
shown essentially no increase, 175 million ft"* to 178 
million ft', sawtimber volume has increased by 8 
percent. Much of the volume in this stately citizen of the 
woods is primarily found growing in the small forested 
patches that are primarily sites for larger homes and 
estates, bringing peace and tranquility to its 
surroundings. Elsewhere, it forms a minor component 
of Connecticut's woodlands. 

Sugar maple is one of the most valuable species in 
Connecticut, prized for its wood, maple-syrup 
production, and beauty. Who can deny the impact that 

Change in Growing-stock and Sawtimber Volume on Timberland 
for the Top Ten Growing-stock Species 

Red maple 
Northern red oak 
Other red oaks 
Sweet birch 
Eastern white pine 
White oak 
White ash 
Sugar maple 

Growing Stock 


200 400 600 
Million Cubic Feet 


500 1,000 1,500 
Million Board Feet 






Biomass of All Live Trees and Shrubs 
by County and Component on Forest Land 

New London 
New Haven 


Merchantable bole of 
growing-stock trees 

SapHngs (1.0-4.9 in. d.b.h.) 

15 20 25 

Million Dry Tons 




HNongrowing-stock portions 
of growing-stock trees' 

SeedUngs (<1.0 in. d.b.h.) 


and shrubs 

Cull trees and 
salvable dead trees 

forest land^ 

'Includes the branches, foliage, and stump-root system of growing-stick trees only. 

^Includes the biomass of all components on reserved forest land, unproductive forests, and urban forests. 

its splash of bright golden foliage has on the visual 
appeal of autumn in Connecticut? Yet, it's likely that the 
value it holds as a high-quality hardwood is what keeps 
volume increases low. Since 1985, sugar maple has 
remained essentially unchanged in terms of growing- 
stock and sawtimber volume. 

Red maple and sweet birch are adapted to a broad range 
of growing conditions and can be found in heavy 
concentrations across the state. Red maple in particular 
- the leading species in terms of growing-stock volume - 
increased by nearly 65 percent between 1972 and 1985. 
That tapered off to only 9 percent between 1985 and 
1998. Red maple is a volunteer species on abandoned 
farmland, especially on moister sites. Cutting practices 
that remove more valuable species and leave the less- 
valued red maple probably promoted its volume 
increases more than any other factor. But since red 
maple is not long-lived, species such as northern red oak 
may be starting to reassert their dominance, especially in 
terms of sawtimber volume. 

Total Resource 

Standard means of measuring the forest - in terms of 
cubic feet and board feet, for example - often miss a 
significant portion of the total forest resource and in 
many cases account for only half of the woody material 
contained in trees and shrubs. One way to capture this 
missing material is to measure it in terms of weight, or 
biomass. This is most often reported in dry tons. In 
1998, the forests of Connecticut contained more than 
161 million dry tons of trees and shrubs. 

Most of the forest biomass was in growing stock - 
almost 54 percent. The remainder was in nongrowing- 
stock components: portions of growing-stock trees 
outside of the merchantable bole (25 percent), cull trees 
and salvable dead trees (8 percent), saplings between 1 
and 5 inches diameter at breast height (d.b.h.) (4 
percent), small material such as seedlings and shrubs (1 
percent), and biomass on the reminder of the forest land 
base besides timberland (8 percent). The bulk of the 
biomass resource is concentrated in Litchfield County, 
but Fairfield County contains a substantial proportion 
of biomass on noncommerical forest land. 



Poorly stocked 

Moderately stocked 

Fully stocked 


Area of Timberland by Stocking Class 
(based on growing-stock trees) 


400 600 800 

Thousand Acres 



Forest biomass can play an important role in the world's 
carbon cycle. Trees and shrubs act as carbon sinks, 
removing carbon from the atmosphere in the form of 
carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) and storing it in the 
form of cellulose. It's possible that forest vegetation my 
help mitigate the effects of increased carbon dioxide 
levels in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels. 
If so, increases in biomass show that in the future, 
Connecticut's forests could play an increasing important 
role in carbon sequestering and associated global 
climactic change. 

Timber Supply 
Levels of Stocking 

The numbers of trees per acre and tree size determine 
how well a stand is stocked. Stocking measures indicate 
how well a site is being utilized to grow trees of 
economic value. In fuUy stocked stands, trees are fully 
using the potential of the site. If allowed to continue to 
grow, these stands will eventually become overstocked. 

In overstocked stands, trees are crowded and growth 
slows. Trees in these stands are less vigorous and more 
susceptible to insect and disease damage. If not thinned 
or harvested, commercially valuable trees may die and 
their value for timber products lost. Good forest 

management involves reducing overstocked and fully 
stocked stands to a moderately stocked level through 
thinning or harvesting, which includes thinning and 
other silvicultural treatments. 

Poorly stocked stands have widely spaced trees, are 
occupied with trees of little or no commercial value, and 
with little or no regeneration. These stands often are the 
result of harvesting only the best and biggest trees, 
leaving trees of poor form and undesirable species. The 
result is large gaps in the forest canopy in which no 
desirable regeneration exists. Poorly stocked stands are 
difficult to manage because they will not mature into a 
fully stocked condition in a reasonable amount of time. 

Historically, Connecticut's forests have shown an 
increase in stocking levels. The number of acres of 
poorly and moderately stocked stands has decreased, 
while the area of hilly-stocked stands have increased. At 
the same time, a more productive forest has been 
maintained through declining levels of over-stocked 
stands. The increased number of fully-stocked stands 
present opportunities for management without 
decreasing forest growth. Management of these stands 
can prevent them from becoming overstocked. At 
present, there are very few over-stocked stands and few 
non-stocked stands. 


Timber Quality 

Today, Connecticut forests contain an abundant supply of nearly every size tree. There have 
been substantial increases in almost every diameter class except for small trees, and a shift 
toward the larger diameter classes. 

The value of a tree for timber products rises as the tree becomes large enough to produce higher 
value products. Value increases first as trees grows large enough to produce small sawlogs 
(greater than 9 inches d.b.h. for softwoods and 11 inches d.b.h. for hardwoods), and again as 
the trees grow large enough to produce high-grade sawlogs or veneer logs (greater than 1 5 
inches d.b.h.). Large trees with boles free from branches produce the clear lumber that is sought 
by furniture makers. 

While timberland in Connecticut remained essentially unchanged, the inventory of growing- 
stock volume increased 16 percent since the previous inventory. This is largely due to a 
declining demand for timber, a slackening of past timber harvesting practices, and continued 
recovery from storm damages. Younger stands with trees between 5 and 9 inches d.b.h. 
represent the future of Connecticut's forests and have declined by 14 percent. This decrease is a 
concern to forest resource managers. 

A 27 percent decrease in the volume of oak species in the 
smaller diameter classes was largely responsible for the 
shift. Most oak species are slow growing and it might be 
necessary to consider aggressive silvicultural treatments in 
the fiiture to encourage oak regeneration. 

The portion of trees that are large enough to produce 
sawlogs (sawtimber) increased by 20 percent, to 9.2 
billion board feet. These are the trees that yield high 
quality stems from timberlands. 

Foresters measure tree diameters at AV^ feet above the 
ground and refer to this as d.b.h. (diameter at breast height). 
Growing stock is the volume of commercially acceptable 
trees 5 inches d.b.h. and larger, from a I -foot stump height 
to a 4-inch top diameter (outside bark), or until the stem 
breaks into branches. In a maturing resource, curves of 
growing-stock diameter class distribution (based on d.b.h.), 
show not only an increase in each class, but also a move 
toward the larger diameter classes. This was the case in 
Connecticut, as the average d.b.h. increased to 9.8 inches. 

Change in Growing-stock Volume on Timberland by Diameter Class 
600 -, 


^ ^ ^ 

f ^c^S^ 

Diameter Class (inches at breast height) 


Sawlogs of tree grade 1 and 2 are the most 
sought after because they yield more volume 
in the better lumber grades when 
manufactured into high value-added 
products, such as furniture. Connecticut is 
endowed with a unique mixture of tree 
species preferred by manufacturers of 
quality wood products. These preferred 
species — red oak, ash, maple, and birch — 
are in an abundant and increasing supply. 

The quality of Connecticut's hardwood 
sawtimber is relatively high. Within 
softwoods - almost all of which is white 
pine and hemlock - quality is sometimes 
poor. Hemlock is graded difiPerently than 
other species. It is either acceptable or very 
poor. Fifty-eight percent of hemlock 
sawtimber volume is acceptable. The 
remainder is graded as very poor. This may 
be due to the consequences of more than 10 
years of hemlock woolly adelgid infestation 
and other factors affecting hemlock quality. 

Eastern white pine is a valuable softwood species. However, most of its sawtimber volume 
in Connecticut is of poorer quality. About 84 percent, or 700 million board feet, is in tree 

grade 3, 4, and 5. Only 128 million board 
feet are in the more preferred tree grades. 
Many white pine trees have poor form 
because they were either open grown or 
attacked by the white pine weevil. 

Tree grade is a rating of sawtimber quality based on a 
classification system of guidelines for hardwoods, white pine, 
and southern pine. General/, the lower th number, the higher 
the quality and the higher the value. The ability of a tree to 
produce high quality sawlogs can be enhanced by thinning 
and pruning it. This is especially helpful in white pine since it 
exhibits an excurrant branching habit, or branching throughout 
the entire length of the tree bole. This picture shows white 
pine that have been pruned. 

Distribution of White Pine and Hemlock 
Sawtimber on Timberland by Tree Grade 

Grade 5 



Very poor 

Grade 4 


Grade 3 




Grade 2 
Grade 1 




White pine Hemlock 

Hardwoods generally are in much better 
shape. Fifty-eight percent of the hardwood 
sawtimber volume is in trees of sufficient size 
to produce grade 1 logs. Of these, about 65 
percent are in tree grades 1 or 2. The more 
valuable species have greater volumes in these 
better tree grades, but that's not true for all 
hardwood species. 

Northern red oak has the largest portion of 
trees over 15 inches d.b.h. in tree grade 1. 
Sixty-six percent of the volume of large 
northern red oaks is in tree grade 1 . It is 
followed by other red oaks (scarlet, pin, and 
black oak), red maple, and white ash. Other 
hardwood species have considerably fewer 
grade 1 trees. 


Distribution of Hardwood Sawtimber Volume 
on Timberland by Size and Tree Grade 

Million Board Feet 

The gromh characteristics of red maple cause it to 
have more defects than other species, so it tends to 
contain less commercially valuable material. It is only 
the high volume of red maple encountered in the state 
that allows it to remain among the top species in terms 
of grade. While it had more than 332 million board 
feet in grades 1 and 2, only 36 percent of its sawtimber 
volume was in trees at least 15 inches d.b.h. Almost 
328 million board feet were in tree grade 5. 

Products from Connecticut's Trees 

From the verv' beginning of European colonization, 
tree har\'esting was an integral part of life in 
Connecticut. Early settlers relied on forests as a source 
of raw materials for daily life and looked for means to 
har\'est and process its bounn^ more quickly and easily. 
The earliest sawmill in New England was operating 
near York, Maine in 1623, and by 1645 there was a 
mill operating in Farmington, Connecticut. 

But these early sawmills bear little resemblance to their 
modern descendents. Usually they contained a single 
saw, with an up-and-down motion powered by water 
and hand-fed logs. Their shrill scream and slow 
progress soon gave way to parallel gang saws, usually 
using four blades and a water-powered feed system. 

The numerous local mills in operation and the 
extensive har\Tsting of massive spar trees destined for 
foreign shipbuilders soon began to take a toll on 
Connecticut s timber supply. White pine also was used 
by clapboard and shingle mills, which might well have 

Use of Harvested Trees 


Industrial products 

been the single greatest danger to the white pine 
reserves. Timber shortages began to appear. 

Overseas markets were strong for other species as well. 
Oaks were particularly valuable for barrels and casks in 
addition to building materials. 

Lumber production continued to rise steadily through 
Connecticut's early histor}'^. Furniture, blanks for tool 
handles, rails for fences, and studs for bridges were all 
important products that were manufactured along with 
what the sawmills produced to construct the homes and 
buildings to expand their communities. By 1869, these 
mills were producing 56 million board feet of lumber 

Lumber production began to slump toward the end of 
the 19'*' century. At that time, much of the state's forests 
were cut heavily for charcoal production and little 
hardwood timber may have been allowed to grow large 
enough to produce acceptable boards. Production 
rebounded, however, when processors found lucrative 
pine-box markets for softwoods. Lumber production 
peaked in 1909 at 168 million board feet, which was 
primarily due to these new markets. 

Never again would Connecticut record the high volumes 
of lumber production that it had at the turn of the 
previous century, as production steadily dropped for the 
next quarter century. During this period, suitable pines 
from Connecticut's "Second Forest" became harder to 
find. By the 1920s, the softwood industry had shifted to 
the South and Lake States. The state became a softwood 
importer rather than a softwood producer and thereafter 
produced predominantly hardwood lumber, which 
recovered after the nation found coal to be a cheaper 
form of energy near the turn of the century. 


Lumber Production^ in Connecticut, 1799 - 1998 


S 160 








1870 1880 1890 

1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 


1990 2000 

^Sources: Steer, Henry B. 1948. Lumber production in the United States, 1799-1946. U.S. Forest Service, 
Division of Forest Economics. 233 p. U.S. Bureau of Census, Current Industrial Reports. 

Between 1929 and 1933, lumber production hit 
bottom, coinciding with the national economic collapse. 
In 1932, sawmills in Connecticut produced a record low 
of only 8 million board feet of lumber. In just 25 years, 
lumber production had declined 95 percent. But the 
nation's economy would eventually recover, as would 
Connecticut's timber industry. 

Improvement was at first sparked by wartime demand 
for raw materials. It was followed quickly by post-war 
housing demand that stimulated an influx of mostly 
low-capacity sawmills. But by the early 1 960s, the 
circumstances that had been responsible for rapid 
increases in lumber production essentially disappeared 
and so too did the smaller facilities. As production 
returned to pre-depression levels, the cost of 
maintaining low-capacity mills skyrocketed and the 
industry increasingly shifted to fewer mills of greater 
production capacity. What followed was long-term 
growth under normal economic conditions, helped at 
times by the development of products such as wooden 
pallets that more fully utilized low-quality hardwoods. 

When trees are harvested today, the high-quality lower 
trunk of the tree is used for lumber, while the upper 
stem, large branches, small trees, and undesirable species 
are used for lower value-added products, pulpwood, and 
fuelwood. Parts of the tree that can't be used and have 
no markets are left in the woods as logging residue. In 
Connecticut, 32 percent of the volume of trees that is 
harvested is used for industrial products (sawlogs and 

pulpwood), 50 percent is used as ftielwood, and 18 
percent is logging residue. 

Sawlogs remain the primary industrial use of wood 
harvested in Connecticut. Lumber produced from 
Connecticut's red oaks is highly valued and is the basis 
for nearly half of Connecticut's timber harvesting 
activities. By the mid-1980s, almost 67 million board 
feet of sawlogs were harvested annually. About 45 
percent, or 30 million board feet, of the sawlogs were 
red oak. Softwood sawlog production, however, is 
almost as high. The volume harvested from the primary 
softwoods —pine and hemlock — was nearly 21 million 
board feet. 

Some pulpwood is produced, but only in small 
amounts. None is used within the state but pulp mills in 
neighboring states provide an important market for low- 
value wood from Connecticut. In 1996, about 3,000 
cords of pulpwood were shipped out of the state, almost 
all of which was hemlock. By that time, there was only a 
handfijl of pulp mills located within 200 miles of 
Connecticut's western border - in New York and 
northeastern Pennsylvania. Yet the region remains a 
center for the production of fine papers. 

In 1997 there were 36 paper mills remaining in 
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont - 22 in 
Massachusetts alone. These mills produce specialty- 
grade papers such as ledger stock, fine writing paper, 
glassine, carbons, and blank-note papers. They utilize 


Sawlog Production in the Mid-1980s 

Red oak 
Red pine 
White pine 
Red maple 

Yellow poplar 

Sugar maple 

Roundwood consists of logs, bolts, and 
other round, split, or chipped tinnber 
products generated by harvesting 
trees for industrial or consumer use. 
Roundwood is comnnonly nneasured in 
board feet for sawlogs and veneer logs, 
cords for pulpwood, and cubic feet for 
other products. 

— 1 — 



Million Board Feet 

pulp purchased from manufacturers of other products and provide a valuable market for 
wood harvested from Connecticut. 

Forest products other than sawlogs and pulpwood are no longer manufactured to any great 
extent in Connecticut. At one time, there was a thriving softwood wooden box industry and 
softwood cooperage products, such as fish pails and butter firkins, were an important part of 
the state's economy. Markets for similar specialty products had risen substantially by the early 
1970s, but by the mid 1980s only 4 percent of total industrial roundwood production in 
Connecticut was for other products — primarily veneer logs, cabin logs, posts, and poles. 
Almost all of the other products had been displaced by substitute products. 

Fuelwood remains the leading product harvested from trees in Connecticut. In the early 
1970s, an oil embargo and the desire for self-sufficiency by many Connecticut residents 
brought about a upsurge in residential fiielwood use. While it has not reached the maximum 
use it once had, fiielwood use remains significant. 

Some households in Connecticut are still dependant to some extent on wood for fuel. But 
fuelwood includes not only what is used by many homeowners who burn wood for heat, it 
includes wood burned in commercial facilities as well. In 1996, there were more than 
210,000 cords of wood used for fuelwood, nearly all of which came from hardwood species. 
About three-fourths of this wood came from nongrowing-stock sources - dead and cull trees 
from the forest and trees from fences rows and yards. Fuel is an ideal use for this kind of 
material since it has little commercial value otherwise. 


modernized. The sight of buckets hanging from 
sugar maple trees in late winter is no longer as 
common as it once was, since today most sap can 
be gathered by plastic tubing. Today, sugaring is 
one of the few remaining viable cottage industries. 
Local farmers or woodlot owners with a saphouse 
can market their product directly or sell it 
wholesale to specialty shops and stores. 

For many in Connecticut today, products from the woods are part of a traditional way of life 
and can contribute additional income. There are a host of these other forest products. The 
most common is maple sugar, but lesser recognized products also abound and remain an 
integral part of many rural communities. These include boughs and floral greenery; weaving 
and dyeing materials; botanical flavorings and medicinal herbs, such as ginseng, cultivated 
and wild mushroom production; and cones, berries, and numerous other specialty and 
novelty items gathered from trees. Also, 
Connecticut has the distinction of supporting 
American Distilling, which is one of the last 
remaining manufacturers of witch-hazel extract 
and is located in East Hampton. 

Unlike coal and oil reserves, the forest resource 
renews itself, as evidenced by the return of 
Connecticut's forests following past abuses. 
Trees can be thought of as a crop - they can be 
cut today and by future generations if nothing is 
done to degrade their productive capacity. The 
state's forests have been repeatedly harvested for 
various wood products but remain productive 
and continue to provide a host of benefits. 
Except for parks and forest preserves, nearly all 
forests have been harvested three or more times. 
The sustainability of today's forests is aided by 
regulations and adoption of the best 
management practices available. 

Average Use of Fuelwood Per Household, 1996 

Rhode Island 



N. Hampshire 











Average Annual Net Growth and Removals* 

Top 12 species 

Net growth 
(Thousand cubic feet) 

(Thousand cubic feet) 

Ratio of 
Growth to Removals 

Red maple 



2.1 : 1 

Northern red oak 



2.2 : 1 

Other red oaks 



1.3 : 1 

Sweet birch 



5.1 : 1 

White pine 



3.6 : 1 

Eastern hemlock 



12.6 : 1 




1.3 : 1 

White ash 



1.5 : 1 




6.5 : 1 

White oak 


(1,651 ) 

1.2 : 1 

Sugar maple 



6.7 : 1 

Yellow birch 



3.0 : 1 

State total 



2.2 : 1 

* Estimates of growth and removals are made only from remeasured plots. 

* These estimates can differ from volume change estimates that are made using all plots. 

Sustainability of the Timber Supply 

The ability of forests to sustain themselves is measured 
by their ratio of growth to removals. Net growth is the 
total growth of trees, plus gains from land coming into 
forest, minus losses to mortality from insect and disease 
outbreaks and disturbances such as and wind and ice 
storms. Removals include harvesting plus losses due to 
changes in land use. 

In Connecticut, the net growth of trees has exceeded 
removals since the first inventory in 1952. Between 
1985 and 1998, annual net growth averaged 55.7 
million ft^ and annual removals averaged 25.5 million 
ft^. Of the volume removed from timberlands, 62 
percent is attributed to harvesting and 38 percent to the 
conversion of forests to nonforest uses or the 
reclassification of forest land to a reserved or other 
noncommercial forest land category. The surplus growth 
over removals yields an annual net increase of 34.8 
million fi;^ — a 1 percent annual increase. 

The ratio of net growth (which includes losses from 

natural mortality) to removals has averaged about 

2.2 : 1 over the past decade. That is, 2.2 times as much 

wood was grown as was being cut or removed. The 
growth of trees has exceeded harvesting since the first 
inventory in 1952, and today's well-stocked stands are 
the result of these steady gains that have been 
accumulating in Connecticut's standing forest. 

The ratio of growth-to-removals (G/R) varies among 
species. Comparing ratios for individual species to the 
average for all species indicates relative changes for each 
species, and helps explain change in the structure and 
composition of a forest. Species with the most favorable 
G/R ratios are hemlock, sugar maple, beech, and birch; 
these species are increasing in the portion of the total 
resource they represent. 

Until recently, cutting pressure has been greater on 
softwood species (other than hemlock) than on 
hardwoods. Ratios of less than 1.0 occur where removals 
exceed growth. During the period covered by the most 
recent inventory (1985-1998), no important species had 
a G/R ratio less than 1.0, although a few - red maple, 
white oak, other red oaks, hickory, and ash — fell below 
the state average. 


Forest Health 
Damaging Agents 

Natural stresses have always challenged the health of 
forests. Damage from biotic agents, such as insects and 
diseases, consistently plague the vitality of trees. Diverse 
abiotic agents have confounded those practicing sound 
forest management since mankind first decided he could 
control the forest. Thousands of acres of Connecticut's 
forests were killed or declined due to the effects of 
frost, drought or flooding (the latter attributed to 
beaver dams). 

Two pests in particular have extracted a heavy toll 
on the forests of Connecticut over the years: 
chestnut blight and the gypsy moth caterpillar. At 
one time the forested landscape of Connecticut was 
dominated by American chestnut trees. This 
majestic giant of the woods had been a staple in 
home construction and furniture manufacturing for 
many years. Imposing chestnut beams and joists still 
found in older homes attest to its importance. In 
1904, an Asian fungus was discovered in the Bronx 
Zoo. By 1920, the fungus had either killed or infected 
almost every mature chestnut tree in Connecticut. It is 
also commonly found on oaks - white oaks in 
particular. There is so little that can be done to control 
this disease under forest conditions that American 
chestnut today is relegated to an understory species. 
These once-proud trees now simply sprout from tree 
stumps, become infected, die back, and resprout. 

The spread of gypsy moth also has been well 
documented. Gypsy moth was introduced into the 
United States in 1869 by a French scientist in 
Massachusetts. The first outbreak occurred in 1889 and 
by 1905, it had reached Connecticut. For nearly 100 
years, it has established itself throughout the state, 
though at times population levels have plummeted. In 
the late 1 970s, Connecticut was almost free of this 
persistent pest, but that was soon followed by an 


Adult gypsy moth 

extensive outbreak. In the mid 1980s, the gypsy moth 
caterpillar had defoliated about 15,000 acres in a single 
year. Since that time, populations have declined and 
over the past decade have been uncharacteristically low. 
This may be due to a number of agents, including 
insects and birds that feed on eggs and early instars, and 
a fungus that infects the caterpillar. Persistent efforts of 
control have helped to contain its damaging effects. 

A number of insects and diseases have 
left their imprint on Connecticut's forests 
over the years. The most recent is the 
hemlock woolly adelgid. Currently, no 
known control of this aphid exists and 
hemlocks continue to decline throughout 
the state. Drought and mild winters allow 
the adelgid to proliferate. 

A more recently discovered insect is causing widespread 
mortality in hemlocks. Initially identified in 1924 as 
originating from Asia, the hemlock woolly adelgid was 
discovered along the coast of Connecticut in 1985 and 
heavy infestations have occurred throughout the state 
since then. This aphid sucks the sap of young twigs, 
causing almost complete defoliation within a few years. 
A quarantine on nursery stock from heavily infested 
states like Connecticut was imposed, yet recent 
infestations have been found in surrounding states 
which has raised widespread concern about its 
continued spread. Effective control of the insect is still 
unknown, though promising research is currently under 
way at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station 
on a biological control agent. 

Elm is a minor species in Connecticut's forests bur its 
charm and ability to grow well in compacted soils and 
under polluted conditions have made it a favorite in 
urban settings for years. But in the 1930s, diseased logs 
from Europe brought a deadly disease carried by an 
insect - Dutch elm disease. Since then, it has killed 
almost all the elms and constantly threatens those that 
remain. Control under forest conditions is impractical 
since sanitation is the only viable alternative. 


Average Annual Growing-stock Mortality 
(as a percentage of standing growing-stoclt volume) 

White ash ^^Hj^^l^^H^^^H^^Hjjj^^^Hj^^^^Hi 1.52 

White oak ^^^Hl^^HIIIHjj^^l 0.88 

Hickory ^^^H^^^^^^^^^^H 

Red maple ^^^M^^^^^B \ 0.58 

Other oaks plHIHillH^I^H 0.55 

Birch ■■■■■■■■I 0.49 

Northern red oak HHIHHHHI 0.45 

Hemlock Hl^^^^^^l 0.43 ^^^^^^^^^^^^B^^^^^^^l 

White pine pi^^^l 0.32 InPPiifPPliPRPIliP^ 

Sugar maple 0.15 i ^^MMMBMMHI^WMHMMBWI 

0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 

Percent of Growing-stock Volume 

When butternut trees develop cankers on twigs, 
branches, and stems, and then quickly deteriorate, look 
for the butternut canker to be present. This a fungus 
was first discovered in 1967 in the north central United 
States, but has quickly spread in the past 30 years. As 
yet, there is no known control for the disease, but a few 
native butternut trees have shown resistance to the 
disease. Both Connecticut and New Hampshire are 
cooperating with the USDA Forest Service to locate 
healthy trees and graft material to test for disease 

Of growing concern is the vVsian 
longhorned beetle. Largely limited 
to maple species in Connecticut 
near the New York border, this 
introduced pest girdles trees by 
the tunneling activity of the beetle 
larvae. It was first discovered in 
New York City in 1996, but an 
extensive program of eradication 
is currently being conducted and 
heavily infested areas have been 
quarantined. Surveys to monitor 
spread and provide early detection 
of this damaging insect continue to be conducted 
throughout much of southern Connecticut. 

A cousin, the recently introduced Japanese cedar 
longhorned beetle, was discovered in Milford in the fall 
of 1998. This small pest poses a serious threat in 
Connecticut nurseries, many of which have been 
inspected. Infestations also have been found in in 
Greenwich, North Haven, and Stamford. Since it has so 
recently been introduced, research to study the insect's 
development and possible control is still in its infancy. 

Other pests that infect Connecticut's trees occur 
periodically, usually when the trees are stressed from 
environmental conditions, such as drought. Known 
pests include: dogwood anthracnose fungus, which 
causes tan, circular leaf-spots surrounded by purple 
borders that can progress into necrotic veins and leaf 
margins, and eventual dieback; pear thrips, which are a 
serious pest of sugar maple and whose population 
increases may be tied to years of heavy sugar maple 
flowering; white pine blister rust, which continues to 

cause dieback in mature trees 
and mortality of seedlings and 
saplings; and beech bark 
disease, carried by the beech 
scale, continues to cause 
scattered mortality. 

Signs of damage from Asian longhorned beetles 

Insects, disease, fire, wind, ice, 
and other destructive agents 
have contributed to tree 
mortality in Connecticut. But 
in general, the primary species 
of Connecticut's forests are 
healthy. Between 1985 and 
1998, annual mortality 
averaged more than 1 6 million fi:"* of growing stock, or 
0.58 percent of the standing growing-stock volume of 
1998. Important tree species suffering the most 
mortality (higher than the average for all species) were 
white ash, white oak, and hickory. However, not even 
the most affected species of white ash approaches the 
level of mortality experienced by a tree species in serious 
danger. For example, the mortality rate for elm, after 
nearly a century of Dutch elm disease, is almost 4 
percent of its growing-stock volume. 


All species 

Sugar maple 

Sweet/paper birch 
Red maple 
White/green Ash 
Select white oak 
Other red oaks 
Select red oak 

Percent Dieback for Trees Measured 1996-1999 
For All Species and Selected Species 

0-5 % 

6 - 20 % 

>21 % 

0% 20% 40% 60% 

Percent Defoliation 



Crown Dieback 

For years, Connecticut residents have heard warnings 
about potential for withering vegetation, wide-spread 
defohation, and denuded hillsides brought about by new 
damaging agents such as acid deposition and various 
other environmental instruments. Indeed, new 
challenges seem to appear each year. In response to this, 
The USDA's Forest Health Monitoring Program was 
established to monitor trends in the health of forest 
ecosystems. It is a national program implemented with 
the cooperation of individual states. In Connecticut, 
measurements were taken from 1996 to 1999 and 
included a wide set of indicators which reflect forest 
conditions. One of these measures is crown dieback. 

Crown dieback occurs in the upper and outer portions 
of a tree and represents recent branch mortality, which 
begins at the tip of a branch and proceeds toward the 
trunk. It can be a sign that the tree is suffering from 
health problems. Low dieback ratings are considered to 
be an indicator of good health because the tree has been 
able to support foliage and growth in the outer portions 
of its crown. Crown dieback measures the percent of 
branch tips that are found dead. If dead twigs and 
branches occupy no more than 5 percent of the crown 
area, crown dieback is considered low; more than 20 
percent dieback is considered high. 

Very few trees surveyed in Connecticut had significant 
amounts of crown dieback. Ratings were low on 86 
percent of the trees, and dieback was high on less than 1 
percent of the trees. Average dieback was about 4 
percent, influenced by largely high dieback on eastern 

Dieback was low on only 68 percent of eastern hemlock 
trees and high on 4 percent of these trees, which may be 
the result of repeated heavy infestations of hemlock 
wooly adelgid. Damage indices bear this out. On eastern 
hemlock, 77 percent of tree damage was related to dead 
or broken tops, which usually results from adelgid 
attack. This was high compared to the average of all 
species, in which 19 percent was related to dead or 
broken tops. Select red oaks also varied from the average, 
except 86 percent of the damage was related to decay. 

The continued observations of dieback, damage, and 
similar attributes will allow identification of trends and 
improve evaluations of forest conditions. But in the end, 
it has been the remarkable resilience of Connecticut's 
forests, along with aggressive pest management, that 
have allowed the forests to withstand damaging agents 
and remain healthy. While humans have been 
responsible for introducing some pests, they also have 
been responsible for their eradication or control, 
allowing forests to grow and flourish. 


Connecticut's Changing Forest 
Stand Size 

The Native Americans were the first to practice forest management to create stands of trees that 
produced optimal benefits for their societ}\ They knew that if allowed to mature without human 
interference, the woodlands would climax into densely shaded forests of hemlock and beech. 
Birch, red maple, ash, pine, understot}-, brush, and herbaceous vegetation wotild soon disappear. 

Bv burning the forests on a regular basis, the earliest inhabitants of Connecticut found that a 
^'arie^" of cover rs'pes and a balanced mixture of tree sizes could be maintained and would be 
beneficial. It would provide the proper blend of mast, nesting and mating sites, and shelter for the 
varier\- of wildlife species upon which they depended. 

Forest management through the \\idespread use of wildfire is neither practical nor tolerated today. 
Yet, proacti\'e management of Connecticut's forests can yield a rich forest diversity, beneficial for 
watershed protection, general aesthetics, floral and faunal species diversin; and the full range of 
both industrial and nonindustrial forest products. 

In regenerating stands (seedling-sapling class) after major disturbances — such as fire, timber 
hars-esting, and land abandonment — \\ildlife species that utilize the low growing herbaceous and 
shrub vegetation become common. Species that prefer this habitat include song sparrow, bluebird, 
^■\merican goldfinch, cedar waxrwing, golden-winged 
warbler, bobolink, and eastern cottontail. 

Often the number of species present is at its lowest level in 
the intermediate stands of a forest — between the dense 
vegetation of the regenerating stands and the mature stands 
(sa\\T;imber-size class) dominated by large trees. The 
diversit)' of wildlife species, however, will change as these 
forests grow, reaching a maximum in mature, overmature, 
and all-age stands. Species that are more likely to be found 
in these stands include pileated woodpecker, porcupine, 
black bear, and fisher. 

At one time, an even distribution of stand size classes was 
considered to be ideal - that is about one-third in each of 
the regenerating, intermediate, and mature stands. The 
optimal distribution for sustaining balance in forests rests 
in the determination of what is optimal and for whom. 
The nature of the forest, the needs of landowners, the 
demands of societ}', and many other factors contribute to 
the perception of optimal. While variable over space and 
time, some mix of all sizes is stiU considered beneficial. 

In Connecticut forests today, a beneficial mix of stand size classes may not exist. A 
disproportionate area — 69 percent of the timberland area - is in mature stands. In addition, there 
is an unusually small amount of regenerating stands, which comprise only 6 percent of 
timberland. The overall nature of tree gro\\Th, a decline in the abandonment of farmland, and 
reduced timber har\'esting activities, ha^•e contributed to produce a forest comprised 
predominantly of mature stands and with a deficit of regenerating stands. 

This was not always so. In 1972, the different stand sizes were virtually balanced. During the 
intetA-ening years, the area in mature stands has been steadily increasing. Beuveen 1972 and 1985, 
the area of intermediate stands remained essentially unchanged, declining onlv between 1985 and 
1998. However, the area of regenerating stands has steadily declined. 

Proportion of Timberland 
By Stand Class 

Regenerating Stands Intermediate Stands 

6 % 25 % 

Mature Stands 
69 % 


Change in Stand Classes on Timberland 






i 600 



£ 400 






1985 1998 









and Nonstocked 

These changes can still be considered beneficial to some wildlife. The recovery and return of many 
woodland species has been remarkable during the last century. Black bear, wild turkey, white tail 
deer, and beaver have increased in number. There have even been moose sightings along the 
Massachusetts border. Maturing forests have made this possible. But the lack of balance between 
stand sizes will eventually affect other species of wildlife, and may bring about population 
declines. Few deny the social and environmental value of maintaining mature, old-growth forests. 
Yet a balance is necessary for health and diversity. 

Hunting, freshwater fishing, hiking, camping, picnicking, photography, or just a day spent in the 
fresh air of the woods, all depend on quality wildlife habitat and clean streams and ponds. 
Increasingly intensive pressures resulting from high population densities in Connecticut present an 
interesting challenge to foresters practicing multiple-use forest management. It is a challenge that 
far exceeds what the State's original inhabitants could have possibly imagined when they simply 
burned the forest to improve their food supply. 

Hunting traditions are deeply rooted in 
Connecticut and each year countless 
hunters head to the woods. However, the 
economic value of Connecticut's forest 
habitat is even greater when genera 
wildlife appreciation is considered. More 
outdoor enthusiasts are making their way 
into forests to view and photograph 
wildlife.A variety of nongame species can 
be found in forest habitats, but forested 
wetlands attract even more diverse 
species. While the actual dollar value of 
such activities is impossible to evaluate, 
to many it's priceless. 


per acre 

Number of Dead and Cull Trees on Timberland 













Diameter Class (inches) 

15.0 + 

The Quality of WUdlife Habitat 

Two habitat characteristics that usually improve as forest stands mature are the size of mast- 
producing trees and numbers of standing dead and cull trees. Nuts and hard seeds produced by 
overstor}' trees is an important forage resource for Connecticut's forest wildlife. Species that 
depend on acorns and other hard mast include ruffed grouse, wild turkey, red-headed 
woodpecker, blue jay, squirrel, chipmunk, gray fox, black bear, striped skunk, and white-tailed 

The important mast-producing trees in Connecticut include hickor}', beech, and oak. The 
quantit}^ of mast produced increases with tree size, and it can be assumed that mast production 
has increased in the state because of increases in the number of large diameter oak and beech. 
Since 1985, the number of oak and beech trees 1 1 inches and larger in diameter increased by 39 
and 18 percent, respectively. 

Standing dead and cull trees are important nesting and feeding sites for wildlife. These trees have 
a higher probabilit}^ of being used by primar}^ cavity nesters, such as woodpeckers, as the wood is 
more easily excavated. These cavities, and natural cavities caused by disease or injury, are used as 
resting or nesting sites by various birds and small mammals. 

In Connecticut, 7 percent of all standing trees in the forest are dead. Hemlock, red maple, 
northern red oak, and white pine are the most numerous dead trees over 15 inches in diameter, in 
almost equal numbers. These four species account for 62 percent of all standing dead trees of that 
size, and are the prime candidates for nesting activities. Cull trees are those that exceed maximum 
defect allowances for use as timber products due to rot or poor form — such as twisted trunks and 
excessive branching. The characteristics that make cull trees undesirable for timber products are 
beneficial to wildlife. Cavities, broken tops, pockets of rot, and boles with forks and limbs 
provide suitable habitat. Ten percent of all standing trees are cull. 

The Future of Connecticut's Forests 

From the mid- 1800s to the early 1950s, the wide-scale return of Connecticut's forests was 
remarkable. But for the past 50 years, new forest land from agricultural land abandonment has 
been offset by losses due to land development resulting in the total amount of forest land 
remaining stable. It is doubtful this will continue. In the future, the net loss of forest land is 
expected to increase because of the diminished number of farms being abandoned and increased 
development pressure from a growing population. 

Connecticut has maturing forests dominated by hardwood species. This fact can be 
documented through increases in the average age, size, and volume of trees in the state. The 
majority of trees are healthy, with full crowns, little dieback, and few damages. One significant 
exception is eastern hemlock, which tends to be in poorer condition with thin crowns, higher 
amounts of dieback, and higher rates of damage, especially broken tops. These are likely the 
effects of the hemlock woolly adelgid, among other pests. 

Changes in species composition naturally take place as a forest grows, but cutting practices have 
influenced this process, too. Low cutting rates and shaded conditions on the forest floor have 
promoted the growth of shade tolerant species. Red maple also has responded very aggressively 
to present conditions. Species that need full sunlight to reproduce, such as ash, hickory, paper 
birch, and aspen, will be at a disadvantage in the more shaded conditions that are now more 

Human population increases also influence how forests are used. Greater demands are now 
being placed on forests to produce both traditional and nontraditional benefits and values. 
Fragmentation of timberland into smaller holdings has made it more difficult to use the forest 
in traditional ways. Landowners with small holdings are less likely to manage their forests for 
timber products, and because many of these small holdings are home sites, these owners also 
might be more likely to prohibit others from using their land. 

The challenge for the future is how to sustain the delivery of goods and services people expect 
from Connecticut's forest resource while addressing problems associated with increasing land 
development controlling introduced pests, diseases, and invasive exotic plants; and managing 
the lack of regeneration of desirable tree species such as oak. 


Wharton, Eric H.; Widmann, Richard H.; Alerich, Carol L.; Barnett, Charles H.; 
Lister, Andrew J.; Lister, Tonya W.; Smith, Don; Borman, Fred. 2004. The 
forests of Connecticut. Resour Bull. NE-160. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 
35 p. 

A report on the fourth forest inventory of Connecticut conducted in 1997-98 by 
the Forest Inventory and Analysis unit of the Northeastern Research Station. 
Explains the current condition and changes from previous inventories for forest 
area, timber volume, biomass, growth and removals, and harvesting. Graphics 
depict data at the state and geographic-unit level and, where appropriate, by 

Keywords: forest inventory; volume; biomass; growth and removals. 

The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its 
programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender 
religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family 
status. (Not ail prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities 
who require alternative means for communication of program information 
(Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact the USDA's TARGET Center 
at (202)720-2600 (voice and TDD). 

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director Office of Civil Rights, 
Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue SW, 
Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call (202)720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is 
an equal opportunity provider and employer 


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